Reigning Coast champion Suleiman Fadhili is the winner of the 2022 Red Bull Street Style football national challenge held in Nairobi at the weekend.
The 36-year-old edged former national ace Martin Kibera by 0.5 points (21-20.5) to be crowned the new Kenyan king.
Red Bull Street Style football is the art of doing tricks with a football; performing impossible feats of dexterity to dazzle the crowds. The tricks involve juggling, controlling, and balancing the ball impressively with almost a magical adhesion.
Launched in 2008, Red Bull Street Style football aims to find the best overall Freestyle Football player in the world and only the most creative, technical, and stylish are crowned Red Bull Street Style World Champions.
As a result of the feat, Fadhili, who walked home with the Sh70,000 cash prize, will represent Kenya in the continental virtual contest, slated for July. If crowned the Continental champion, Fadhili will get a ticket to represent Africa in the World Finals.
“I’m grateful to have made history. This is a day I will never forget,” Fadhili said after the victory.
Ahead of the contest, Fadhili did thorough practice at his base in Kilifi. He had morning runs and intense workouts involving stretches, summersaults and perfecting various ball juggling techniques.
“My consistency in training is what gave me hope before I departed to Nairobi for the challenge,” he underlined.
From Monday this week, Fadhili will work on his vertical techniques ahead of the virtual continental showpiece.
Fadhili first came across Freestyle Football on YouTube, where he learnt most of the skills online. He is advising young people to embrace the sport as it has a lot of positive benefits.
“As an ambassador of peace in my county Kilifi, this game has helped me to live a crime and drug free life, it has kept me busy, it has given me a purpose in life, it has not only unearthed that hidden talent I had but it has given me a livelihood,” he says.
For one to be successful in Freestyle Football, Fadhili believes consistent practice is key. He advises that one should engage in as many competitions as possible to be perfect.
Fadhili urges other corporates to take the game to the grassroots where he believes there are plenty of talents that can be unearthed.
He says lack of sponsorship is one of the greatest challenges faced by Freestyle Footballers, especially those with a family to raise like him.
“With good financial support, one can be fully focused in the game, they can work very hard to attain their objective in the sport.
“My dream is to be an African champion in the next five years and also to own a Street Style academy which will churn out talents to the national team,” he underlined.
When asked what he will do with the Sh70,000 cash prize that he won, Fadhili said: “I have planned to use the funds well, I will not waste the money. I will use the money to fund my training, diet and open up a small business to give me the financial freedom that I so much need.”
Third/Fourth Place Play-Off WAS win by Oliver ‘Jillo’ Rhaya who beat Oscar ’The Juggler’ Litondo by 0.5 points to go home with Sh25000.
Kibera went home Sh40000 richer for his second place finish.
Godfrey Masolo, one of the Red Bull Street Style national challenge judges, was pleased with the championship saying it gave great exposure to players who were unknown in the sport.
“About 21 participants turned up for the competition and only one had to win at the end of the day.
"In our judgments, we looked at creativity, execution and originality while awarding the points. I strongly believe Suleiman has what it takes to represent Kenya in the continental battle,” Masolo said.
Red Bull will support Suleiman with upping his technical skills in his bid for the African and world titles.